One of France’s greatest Gothic masterpieces, the Reims Cathedral dates to the 13th century and is hallowed as the coronation site of many French kings. The UNESCO-listed landmark—recognizable for its twin bell towers and rose stained-glass window—was shelled during World War I but has since been restored to its former glory.
No visit to Reims is complete without a trip to its colossal cathedral, which attracts roughly 1 million visitors each year. Considered one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture in existence, Notre-Dame de Reims is known for its opulent facade featuring a sculpted “Gallery of Kings” commemorating the site’s royal history. Other highlights are two statues of Joan of Arc, who liberated Reims during the Hundred Years’ War, and lavish interior tapestries.
The Reims Cathedral features on a wide range of sightseeing itineraries, including day trips from Paris and wine tours through the surrounding Champagne region vineyards.
Things to Know Before You Go
- French-language tours are held several times daily, and can be booked one month in advance.
- The ground floor is accessible to wheelchair users, but the towers can only be climbed on foot.
- Dress in warm layers during the winter, as it can be chilly inside the expansive cathedral.
- Children under age 18 can visit for free; the cathedral is also free to visit on the first Sunday of each month.
How to Get There
The Reims Cathedral is conveniently located in the heart of Reims. It is less than 1 hour by train from Paris’ Gare de l’Est, and roughly 1.5 hours by car via the A4. From the Reims train station (Gare de Reims), the cathedral is about a 10-minute walk or short taxi ride away.
When to Get There
The Reims Cathedral is closed every year from early November to mid-February and on May 1. If attending during a service, be sure to respect worshippers. For a new view of the cathedral, visit after dark. During the summer months, the “Rêve des Couleurs” (“Dream of Colors”) light show illuminates the landmark’s facade.
The Abbey of Saint-Remi and the Palace of Tau
The Reims Cathedral is one of three UNESCO World Heritage sites in this small and landmark-packed French city. The nearby Abbey of Saint-Remi now hosts the Musée Saint-Remi (an art and archaeology museum), while the Palace of Tau, adjacent to the cathedral, was the archbishop’s residence and where French kings stayed prior to their coronation.